Tag: Scott Ford

Scott Ford is Back! Predators Swap Lajunen for the Former Admirals Captain

Perhaps looking to shore the leadership of their AHL affiliate, the Nashville Predators today sent forward Jani Lajunen to St. Louis for former Admirals captain Scott Ford.

Ford was immediately assigned to Milwaukee, where he will resume his former duties of patrolling the Admirals blueline. Ford spent the past four seasons with Milwaukee, averaging nearly 70 games per season. The Fort St. John, B.C. native also continues the Admirals recent trend of getting tougher, as Ford averaged over 115 minutes in penalties over the same period.

Ford struggled some to adapt to being captain of his new team this season, posting a minus-14 rating in 43 games after posting career numbers in Milwaukee last season. Ford’s four goals, seven assists and 11 points (and his astonishing plus-24 rating) were all highs in the AHL.

After 16 points a year ago, Lajunen was also a bit of disappointment this season, scoring just one goal and five points, along with a minus-nine rating. However, Lajunen was one of the Admirals best defensive forwards in 2011-2012.

Its a curious time for a trade between the two clubs considering their place in the standings. Currently Milwaukee sits in 11th place with 52 points, while the Rivermen hold down the 12th slot at 51 points. The two teams faced each other nine times already, with three more matchups still to come.

So Roundtable . . . What do you think of this trade? Are you happy to have Ford back? Do you wish he never left? Was it time for Nashville to pull the plug on Lajunen?

Fixing the Admirals Penalty Kill

Through 45 games the Admirals sit in a surprising 24th place in the AHL in penalty killing success.  Milwaukee is effective 79.9% of the time short handed, allowing 37 goals on 183 attempts, while scoring six goals of their own while skating at least a man short.

“Some nights our penalty kill is good, other nights its bad,” Milwaukee defenseman Scott Ford said.  “I think it’s a just a matter of everybody being on the same page and getting better as a group . . . I think we are doing a better job as of late, and it hasn’t been costing us games like it did early in the season. We just have to keep working on it.”

Here are my three solutions for fixing the penalty kill.

1) Have a healthy Steve Begin.  This is probably the biggest reason for Milwaukee’s struggles as Steve Begin seems almost a perfect prototype for a penalty killer in the AHL with his checking tenacity and his aggressiveness.  Without Begin, there hasn’t a go-to killer for the Admirals to turn to.

2) Clear Rebounds.  Though most hockey fans associate power play goals with pretty plays, oftentimes it’s a rebound or redirection play that scores on a man advantage.  Milwaukee has strong goaltenders who can make the first save, but clearing pucks away is even more essential short handed because the killing team is always out-maned down low.

3) Block shooting/passing lanes.  Active sticks and quick feet up high makes for good penalty killing forwards.  With how well Milwaukee’s forwards play two-way hockey while skating five-on-five, they need to show the same commitment while short handed.  This means aggressively skating to take away shooting and passing lanes.

So Roundtable, what are your penalty killing solutions?  Is there personnel you wish to see Milwaukee try out short handed, or a four-man style you would like to Lane Lambert employ?

Fixing the Admirals Power Play, Three Solutions

Through 42 games the Milwaukee Admirals sit in the second spot in the Western Conference, having accumulated 24 wins and 54 points.  Therefore all is well in Milwaukee, right?  When the Admirals skate five aside life is good, but the special teams remain a glaring issue as Milwaukee currently owns a seven goal deficit during special teams play.

“Five-on-five were pretty good, (but) its an ongoing process to try to get our special teams better,” Admirals coach Lane Lambert said. “We have to look at both the power play and the penalty kill.”

Lets start with the power play, which sits in 19th place in the AHL.  Milwaukee is effective 15.8% of the time, scoring 27 goals on 171 chances while allowing six shorthanded goals against.

What can the Admirals do to improve the power play?

“I think we just need to keep working on it,” Milwaukee defenseman Scott Ford said.  “We don’t a lot of guys other than Linus Klasen and Chris Mueller, who is up with Nashville, that put up big offensive numbers so we have to score by committee on the power play.  If we do the right things, the puck will start finding the back of the net.”

Here are my three solutions to improve the power play:

1) More movement out of everyone on the power play.  Whenever a power play goes south scoring-wise, this is usually the number one culprit.  All players on Milwaukee need to move their feet more to create more shooting and passing lanes.  More open lanes means more shots on goal and more scoring opportunities.

2) Stop watching Linus Klasen.  With a player like Linus Klasen out on the power play, it is easy to get caught watching him and not moving to get open for him.  Klasen is an amazing special teams weapon, but he needs help.  Klasen can draw opposing defenses to him creating openings for other options.

3) Blast more point shots.  The Admirals best weapon is the talent of their defensemen, and Roman Josi, Aaron Johnson, Jonathon Blum and Teemu Laakso are all potential scoring weapons.  By moving more on the power play, shooting lanes for the points open up, creating opportunities for Milwaukee’s garbage goal hunters to find rebounds and tips around the net.  Another way to create offense from the point is to have a good cycle down low that pulls the opposing defense lower in the zone, opening up plays and shots from up high.

Next week…I will tackle the Penalty Kill.  Stay tuned.

So Roundtable, What are your Power Play Solutions?

How Do the Virtual Milwaukee Admirals Stack Up?

A few years ago video game manufacturer EA Sports added the AHL to its options of teams you can use for their NHL video game.  I am not a frequent “gamer,” but I like to dabble from time to time, and I’ve found the addition of the AHL teams to be a pretty neat thing.  Imagine matching your hometown club against the best in the NHL in an exhibition match, or playing a showdown between an NHL team and its top AHL affiliate.

Having recently purchased “NHL ’11” as a early Christmas gift for a friend, I figured it would be a lot of fun taking the virtual Admirals for a spin.  Now my friend is a far better “gamer” than I am (my glory days on the Sega Genesis have long since passed me by), but I managed to go 1-2-0 against him, using Milwaukee vs. Lake Erie twice and Wilkes-Barre Scranton once.

Here are some of my observations about the virtual Admirals:

1) Mark Santorelli is amazing.  It was really fun using both Santorellis on the same line last year on “NHL ’10,” but virtual Mark continues to be a dynamite player on the game for the Admirals.  My best play was a 2-on-1 one-timer which Santorelli usually finished for a goal.

2) Linus Klasen is an unknown.  I never could quite get a handle on how best to utilize Klasen on the offensive attack, even on the power play.  Most likely that’s because I don’t know how to use all the special player moves, but virtual Klasen proved a touch maddening.  Zero points in three games.

3) Brett Palin, Teemu Laakso, Jonathon Blum and Scott Ford were all dependable.  Despite my poor record, every game was low scoring.  My virtual Admirals defense blocked an amazing amount of shots.   I was especially impressed with virtual Palin, who hit everything that moved.

4) Chet Pickard played like Chet Pickard has so far.  The rosters we used for the game must have had Mark Dekanich called up with Nashville, because my only options were Jeremy Smith and Chet Pickard in net.  I couldn’t manage a big save from virtual Pickard when I needed it, and I couple of goals I wanted back big time.

So Roundtable, when/if you play video game hockey, do you choose to play with the Milwaukee Admirals?  If you do, then what are some of your observations?  Do some of the virtual Admirals surprise or disappoint you?  Who is your favorite virtual Admirals player?

Admirals Road Trip Lessons

During the life of a hockey season, there tend to be a few turning points, positive and negative that have an effect on the course of a whole campaign.  During the Admirals 10-game November road swing, a couple of major momentum shifts occurred.

Milwaukee started off the trip hot, then went ice cold in the middle, but finished the trip strong.   In the process, the Admirals became a better team now than they were prior to leaving Milwaukee for an extended period of time.

So what do the players and coaches think were the lessons from the trip?

Coach Lane Lambert:

“I think the biggest quality we took from the trip was our ability to learn from adversity, and for us to overcome and come together as a group.  During the middle the trip we went through a bit of a tough patch, but I thought our leadership really showed through.  It was a learning experience for us to go through that adversity, but adversity can make you stronger if you go about it in the right way.  I think we did a good job of (dealing) with it.”

(Now Nashville) goaltender Mark Dekanich:

“Anytime your on the road for such a long period of time like that it brings guys together.  I think it’s a good experience especially for the younger guys, who are playing in their first year as a professional, to get to see how the veterans handle themselves on the road and to see what we need to do to be successful.  There was a lot of ups and downs during the trip, but I think we did a fairly good job of managing that.  We were 5-3-2 on that than 10 game swing, which is not too bad.”

Defenseman Scott Ford:

“I think anytime you go on the road for such a long period of time, it gives your team a chance to jell together and kind of learn a little bit about each other.  You spend a lot of time together, eat meals together and get to know each other more on a personal level, so that can help you jell as a team.  I think we saw that with this trip.”

Five Things I’m Thankful For

1) The Admirals Team Speed.  During my preseason chats, a one word description from defenseman Scott Ford on his early impressions of Milwaukee really stood out.  The 2010-2011 Admirals would be–Dynamic.  It was a surprising thought, but watching Milwaukee play that is exactly the description I have for team so far.  The youthful Admirals play an up tempo, high speed game that is a joy to watch when it is all on the same page.  Sure Milwaukee suffered through plenty of growing pains in the early going, but when everything is clicking, the Admirals pack a high octane punch.

2) Mark Dekanich’s Goaltending.  There has something in Mark Dekanich’s eye this season, a look of determination that says the puck just isn’t getting by him.  At 24-years old the maturing goaltender is off to a fantastic start, allowing just 21 goals against in his first 13 games of action.  Even more impressive is the work load Dekanich has taken on.  Playing nearly every night in Milwaukee, Dekanich has been between the pipes in all but one of his team’s wins.  If Dekanich continues at numbers in the ballpark of his current pace, expect interested calls from NHL teams to start raining in Milwaukee’s ears.

3) The Wow Factor of Linus Klasen. On opening night it didn’t take long for me take notice of Linus Klasen on the ice—about one shift.  From that point, Klasen has been joy to watch and follow.  Every time the puck is on his stick, it seems like some electric is about to happen.  Perhaps Klasen in Swedish means instant offense, because that is exactly what the 24-year old has provided for Milwaukee this season.

4) The Candor and Color of Coach Lane Lambert.  If there is one person qualified to be annoyed with me this season, it would have to be Lane Lambert.  But credit to the Admirals coach, he has put up with my questions no matter what mood he is in, including the days where Milwaukee’s practices were driving him crazy.  All kidding aside, I really appreciate how generous Lambert and all of the Admirals players have been with their time and their comments.

5) Admirals Fans. Through the first quarter of the season, Milwaukee’s faithful supporters have been a pleasure to interact with.  I love seeing your comments, your thoughts and your critical assessments.  It makes churning out my weekly posts that much easier.  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Round Table faithful.

So Roundtable, Regarding the Milwaukee Admirals, what are you most thankful for?